2006 Conference General Sessions

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THE USE OF COMPUTER ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY TO HELP ENABLE INDIVIDUALS WITH QUADRIPLEGIA

 

Presenter #1
Andrew Crowe
Flat 7, Wycliffe House, Havengore
Chelmsford Essex CM1 6JP
United Kingdom
Day Phone: 00 44 1245 464393
Email: andycrowe@gmail.com


Visual presentation of undergraduate research paper's findings on quadriplegic use of assistive technology to gain computer access. Researcher, C5/6 Quadrplegic due to spinal chord injury.

Complete Paper: In the process of preparing an undergraduate thesis for BSc (Hons) Multimedia Systems, studied at Anglia Polytechnic University in the U.K, the literature search brought the researcher to the CSUN 2005 Conference. It now seems pertinent therefore to present the findings and discussion of potential solutions to the hypothesis, at CSUN’S 2006 Conference. The original research hypothesis was entitled: ‘The level of use of assistive technology by quadriplegics in accessing computers is at best limited at worst inadequate’.

For a high-level quadriplegic (quad), gaining independent computer access through the use of assistive technology (AT) can be seriously life enhancing. For the purpose of this study AT is a device or mechanical aid which substitutes for, or enhances the function of some physical or mental ability that is impaired - in this case, predominantly the mouse and keyboard functions of the computer. Since the web has become such a regular and widespread communication tool the need is yet more clear-cut, since it gives so many opportunities for the dissemination of specific information which enhances the opportunity for further enablement and improved integration within mainstream society.  This study aimed to quantify to what extent and success this is occurring in the United Kingdom (UK) and elsewhere in the world. It looks at the level of awareness of such AT within the high-level spinally injured population, ascertaining whether the most beneficial equipment adaptations are availab!
le to those that require them.

The METHODOLOGY for this study consisted of several UK based case studies, a UK postal questionnaire and a globally available web based questionnaire. Samples were obtained from various countries worldwide including the following: UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, South Africa and India.

This paper will present both the overall results from the study as well as aspects from the individual case studies. The case studies will highlight both those individuals who have overcome severe obstacles to become exceptionally proficient in the use of computer technology, as well as others who have been unable to achieve proficiency, or are unaware of the possibilities available to them. Additionally the paper discusses how computer access can potentially be improved through multi-agency collaboration. This collaboration needs to include both persons from the able bodied and disabled community. The researcher / presenter, himself quadriplegic, will highlight the importance of taking part in such collaboration. The true meaning of the following quote has been learnt and understood to its fullest!
'.…..as long as disabled people avoid, or are discouraged from, participation in research into their own affairs they will remain passive and dependent upon others. '(Finkelstein, 1992)

The thesis addresses several practical issues and focuses on the following key themes:

• Lack of knowledge of products
• Problems of use e.g. pain
• Lack of understanding knowledge of funding that is available.
• Lack of equipment in spinal unit
• Costs
• Charities and their present involvement
• Need for education within mainstream society e.g. BSc (hons) Multimedia Systems APU
• Availability of products that are stocked by mainstream society based vendors.

References

FINKELSTEIN, V. (1992) 'Setting Future Agendas', Keynote address presented at the Disability Research National Conference, Kensington, London, 1 June 1992.


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